Mike Bickle

B. Childress
Feb 19 2010 08:00AM

We looked in the beginning at David's passion for obeying the commands of God's heart.  He said, "I delight to do You
will, O my God, and Your law [Word] is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8).  We also discussed his unmatched example as a
student of the emotions of God's heart.  He proclaimed, "One thing I have desired of the behold the beauty of
the LORD"  (Psalm 27:4).  Now I want to look at a third expression of what it means to be a person after God's heart:
contending for the fullness of God's power and purpose in our generation.

First, we should recognize that the complete fullness of God, as it is manifested in eternity, is beyond anything we can
imagine in this age.  That is not what I mean by "fullness."  But in every hour of history there are divine strategies and
measures of grace that God chooses  to release for that particular time.  There is a "fullness" for each generation.  
That's the fullness of which I'm speaking.

Second, we should recognize that the fullness of God's purposes will look different for each generation.  For example,
King David did not have the same opportunity to operate in the anointing to do miracles as the apostle Paul did in the
Book of Acts.  Paul didn't have the anointing to accomplish supernatural military feats as David did.  Our job is to press
into the fullness of whatever God is offering His people in the season of history we live in.  We should be like David, who
"served his own generation by the will of God" (Acts 13:36).  We should ask, "Lord, how much of Your power will You
give us?  What more do You have planned for us?  What's the highest and most and best we can do for You?"

Contending for Apostolic Power

I believe we are in the generation in which Jesus will return, which means we have the opportunity to experience the
power of God that surpasses even what is written about in the Book of Acts.  We have much to contend for.  But what
does it mean to contend for the fullness of God?  Simply this:  to work against the obstacles that keep God's purpose
from being manifested in our generation.  It means refusing to back down until the power of God breaks out in full
revival.  It means doing everything God has in mind to heal the sick, deliver the demonized, and draw the unbeliever to
saving faith through lifestyles of prayer, fasting, happy holiness, and wholeheartedness for God.  Jude gave a strong
exhortation, saying:

    "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto
    you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."  
    Jude 1:3

Jude was saying we must fight for the apostolic faith and power of New Testament Christianity that was delivered to us
by the apostles and to the apostles by the Lord Jesus Himself.  Notice Jude said "once for all," meaning this apostolic
faith should be a hallmark of Christianity at all times of history.  The power of God never gets out of date or goes out of

What is apostolic faith we're talking about?  There are three facets to it:

    1.  Proclamation of apostolic doctrine

    2.  Demonstration of apostolic power

    3.  Living holy lifestyles of simplicity and abandonment to God, which includes fasting

Typically, Christians in our day limit the meaning of "contending for faith" to fighting for sound doctrine.  That's not
altogether wrong.  The proclamation of apostolic truth is vital, and we all should commit to it.  But there is more to the
apostolic faith than just doctrine.  It has a power dimension that we see manifested so clearly in the Book of Acts and
throughout the New Testament.  This dimension is inseparable from the other facets of faith.  Unfortunately, many
teachers ignore this aspect of the faith because it doesn't fit their preferred theology or because they are afraid of it.

Suppose a Christian man from the twenty-first century met the apostle Paul and told him he wanted sound doctrine but
he wasn't interested in healing the sick and casting out demons.  I'm sure Paul would correct him and say, "Wait a
second.  If you only have the right dogma but don't demonstrate the power of it, you won't fully live out apostolic faith."  
As my friend Sam Storms, a former professor at Wheaton College, likes to say, "We must know the power of truth and
experience the truth about power."  We must contend for biblical experience together with biblical ideas.  It is not
enough to have good doctrine with a clean life.  That's only part of the equation.  We must also have the power to
deliver the oppressed and needy.  By the same token, it's not sufficient to experience power in ministry while living in
secret sin or espousing false doctrine.  We need all three - lifestyles of radiant righteousness, sound doctrine, and the
power of God to deliver the oppressed.

This is the apostolic faith that was once and for all delivered by Jesus and the apostles.  This is the faith that we are
contending for today.

Sadly, I observe a growing sentiment in the body of Christ against all three dimensions of apostolic faith.  Some people
prefer sound doctrine but don't care to cultivate the power of God for healing.  Others enjoy the power ministry but don't
care for holiness or sound doctrine.  We must resist any tide of popularity that minimizes any aspect of the faith.  Paul

    "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to
    themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned
    unto fables."  II Timothy 4:3-4

In other words, the days are coming - in fact, I believe they are here - when people desire doctrine that suits their own
preferences.  Just like the passage about contending for the faith in Jude 3, the "sound doctrine" referred to in this
verse is often interpreted as being limited to theology alone.  Yes, sound doctrine includes understanding the truth of
God's Word.  But let me reiterate that there is no such thing as sound doctrine that does not have apostolic power and
righteousness.  Paul's prophecy is being fulfilled now in our nation.  Professing believers are surrendering one or more
of the three dimensions of apostolic faith, according to their religious tastes.  Usually, of the three, people let go of
biblical orthodoxy last.  For some reason they hang on to truth long after they let go of power and godliness.  Perhaps
they think if they can lay it out on paper right,  all will be OK.  Some of these professed believers may pastor large
congregations where thousands gather and where ministry seems outwardly healthy and vibrant.  My questions is, is it a
New Testament congregation or a collection of people with itching ears who want to be repeatedly assured that they'll
be fine in lifestyles of powerless Christianity?  Have our churches lost the apostolic faith handed down by the Lord?

Seeking God's Face and His Hand

There is a familiar saying that seems to be growing more popular, and it says we should seek God's face and not His
hand.  Seeking His face refers to intimacy, and seeking His hand speaks of God's blessings, including the release of His
power in ministry.  This saying sounds great, but it's not biblical.  Scripture never instructs us to put intimacy with God in
an adversarial relationship with God's power in ministry.  They are not at odds.  Rather, they are partners.  We seek
God's power to set the captives free so that they also might experience intimacy with Jesus.

The only truth within the phrase is that seeking God's face should be the first priority, and seeking power in ministry
should be second.  But we should resist any suggestion that seeking power is wrong.  It is wrong when it becomes a
higher priority than intimacy, but it is equally wrong to neglect seeking power at all.  The apostle Paul exhorted us to
"covet earnestly the best gifts" (I Corinthians 12:31).  We must fight until we regularly see Holy Spirit demonstrations of
power to deliver the sick and oppressed so that the gospel might go forth in power as we evangelize.  This dimension of
contending for the faith is sorely lacking in the body of Christ.  We desperately need a fresh release of apostolic power
to cast demons out and heal the sick today!  People are tired of sermons about yesterday's power.  They are tired of
reading about the way gospel worked back then without seeing it at work now.  Oh, the vast multitudes that would be
saved if the power of apostolic faith went forth!  Oh, the fame His name would gain among nations!

I believe that Acts 19:11 is more than a history lesson; I believe it is a vision statement from God's heart to us in this
generation.  It says, "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul".  Even handkerchiefs or aprons that were brought
from his body to the sick caused the diseases and evil spirits to leave.  Revival broke out in Ephesus, which was like a
New York City of its day, and the fear of God fell upon it.  The name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, and many who
had believed came confessing their sins.  Those who had practiced magic and the dark arts brought their magic books
and burned them in sight of everybody.  The Word of God grew mighty and prevailed over an entire major city in the
earth.  It reminds me of back in 1857, when Charles Finney had five hundred thousand converts in eight weeks in New
York City.  The Word of God was prevailing there.  Beloved, that is the vision I have for the cities of the earth.  I believe
God is going to release unusual miracles by the hands of His servants.  I believe people are going to have such a life in
God that they will be known in hell itself.

One of the great problems of the hour in which we live is that a lot of people's vision starts and stops with having a
popular ministry before men.  The passion of many of God's servants is to be known on the earth.  But Paul was known
in hell, which means he had an authority that was known in the realm of the angels and the demons.  These demons
had no idea who the sons of Sceva were (Acts 19:14-15).  They had never trembled at their prayer lives or preaching.  
But they had trembled at Paul's prayer life.  I'm convinced that some reading this book will one day be known in hell
because of the anointing on their lives.  Demons didn't know Paul because he was famous as a teacher studying under
Gamliel.  They only knew of him because of his life in God, and we have the same opportunity to lead that kind of life.

The Lord is calling us right now to shift out of the common mode of Christian ministry into a lifestyle of apostolic, New
Testament power.  I have a vision for what Paul called the perfected power being released, not just the introductory
dimensions of power.  I want to see unusual miracles, demons backing away through the prayers of saints.  I believe it is
happening to a point, but nothing compared to the kind of authority God wants to release to His children.  There is a
difference between the introductory grace and anointing of God that come to us at salvation and the greater realms that
God gives those who take the kingdom by force, who press in to His heart with a vision for the fullness of God's power.  
The introductory dimensions are automatic.  All you do is show up and say, "Yes," and you get forgiven.  You feel some
of the Lord's presence.  You can lay hands on the sick and get results every now and then.  You can preach Jesus, and
your friends might get saved.  That anointing for evangelism is active the first day after you have been saved.  You can
read the Word and get revelation.  You'll feel a little bit of God's presence, which is an introductory anointing for
intimacy.  But never should we limit our vision to that which is given freely and is automatic.  To enter into the greater
realms takes a fierce determination.  You enter by weakness, meaning not sinfulness but a lifestyle of fasting, prayer,
serving, and bearing up under persecution (see II Corinthians 11-12).

Weakness?  Yes.  Think of it this way.  When you invest your time and energy in prayer, you are forfeiting hours and
energy you could be using to build a ministry or business or lifestyle in some other way.  Fasting too is about
weakness.  You are giving away your physical strength.  Giving your money is embracing weakness by giving away your
time and energy.  Persecution is the same thing.  Instead of getting your own vengeance, you silently bear under it,
rejoicing in the Lord.  Those are the four main ways in which weakness is described in II Corinthians 11-12 and
throughout the Word of God.

The problem is that when we begin to walk down the path of weakness, the power does not break out immediately.  The
Lord tests our faith with a time delay.  After a while we want to draw back, and that's when the Lord would say, "So you
think I'm lying about this being the way to power?  You think that the way to power is to skip that step and do it on your
own?"  You see, man's way is to rush straight into doing the works of the kingdom, bypassing the step of weakness.  
The message of weakness is offensive in the church.  Most ministries end up believing the lie that there is more power
by spending your time doing the works of the kingdom instead of taking some of that time and pouring it into the
presence of God.  They measure in the here and now.  But in the big picture of church history, when people have
persistently fasted and prayed and given their money and born the stigma of the anointing, God has always proved true
by releasing power in a greater dimension.  It may take years, but it happens, without exception.

Cornelius, an unsaved Gentile, didn't go to the synagogue, had no born-again experience, no anointing, and no
worship tapes, but he spent his entire life in fasting and prayer and giving gifts.  Suddenly an angel came in Acts 10 and
said, "You are the man to open up the Word of God to the Gentile nations."  Cornelius must have thought, "I didn't think
anybody was listening to me up there anymore."  It was the shock of his life.

Anna spend sixty years praying at the temple before getting a glimpse of the promise (Luke 2:37).  When Jesus told the
disciples in John 4 that they were entering into the labors of others, He undoubtedly had Anna in mind.

Beloved, we measure it all wrong when we measure in months or even years.  Some have labored lifetimes.  We must
set our sights on the long view, persevering through the ups and downs of the moment.  We must also embrace the full
strategy of entering into God's power through weakness, and that includes the added dimension of a radical lifestyle of
corporate prayer with fasting (Joel 2:12-17).  That's the third facet of the apostolic faith.  Not only must we contend for
power, but also we must live holy and radically abandoned to Jesus, and I believe He's calling people to do this through
a lifestyle of fasting.

A Lifestyle of Fasting

Regardless of what you might think, fasting is exhilarating. It enlarges our hearts by helping us encounter the beauty of
our Bridegroom. Jesus promoted fasting and introduced a new paradigm of fasting in Matthew 9, which was very
different from what was known in the Old Testament.

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the
bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” Matthew 9:14-15, NIV
Through fasting Jesus brings us into partnership with Him and opens our heart in a way that no other dimension in the
grace of God can. Three things happen:

    1.      We receive greater measure of revelation and power.
    2.      We receive it faster.
    3.      The impact of this revelation goes deeper in us.

God uses fasting and the Word as a Holy Spirit catalyst to speed up the process and enlarge the measure and the
depth of which we receive the beauty of the Lord. This yields great benefits. Jesus said:

    But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are
    fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward
    you.   Matthew 6:17-18, NIV

Fasting has very powerful rewards that are primarily internal, aimed at the human heart. The fast of the Old testament
was mostly for external purposes, but the Bridegroom fast touches the heart. It has a different focus. As we pursue the
Lord by the grace of God through the Bridegroom fast, our physical appetites, emotional appetites, and spiritual
appetites change dramatically. In a word, we gain more desire.   He imparts new desires of delight to us so that fasting is
not drudgery but an indescribable privilege because it brings us closer to Him and His delight for us. There is nothing
the human spirit craves more than to enter into these delights, but most people don’t know they exist. The lifestyle of
fasting is rare, and so the benefits are rare.

Not only is there the impartation of new desires, but also there is the removal or diminution of sinful desires. Beloved,
when our desires line up properly, life is wonderful. When our desires are out of line, life is burdensome. You might
have great wealth and all the fame on earth, but when your desires are lined up wrong, life is very hard and dull and

Fasting, rather than increasing life’s drudgery actually releases supernatural joy. The Old Testament fast was related
so often to suffering, to the affliction of our body, to the affliction of our soul. That paradigm has taken root in church
history. People fast to “pay the price,” but I tell you there is a pleasure in fasting – and many rewards. You can very
quickly grow to love fasting. You actually lament interruptions that prevent you from continuing in it for a time, I get into
the rhythm of the kind of fasting I have engaged in for the last couple of years, and when something interrupts it, I never
think, “Good, I can take a break. Where’s the all-you-can-eat buffet?” Just the opposite – I want to return to fasting as
quickly as God will allow. You will find that the hunger to experience God begins to dominate your life. It’s a strange
paradox that we actually hunger to fast. I believe it is going to be a common experience to love fasting. It will take some
time, but in the long run this is how the body of Christ will choose to live.

I have done plenty of fasting where I did not experience any joy. That’s because I didn’t have my sights set on the
benefits. Without a vision of the benefits, fasting is associated with despair. Let’s look at some of the main benefits of a
fasted lifestyle.

Fasting tenderizes the human heart to God and increases our spiritual capacity to receive from Him.

This is a stunning reality. Over time we gain a supernatural ability to feel and experience God, specifically His love,
beauty, and the glory of His plan for us. Fasting helps us build the foundation of the divine romance. This is the fast
John the Baptist undertook. His fast was not for miracles but for the enlargement of his heart in God. Scriptures say
clearly that John did no miracles. But he fasted more than anybody I know of in Scripture, with the exception of Anna
(there are no records that Anna did any miracles, either).  But John’s fasting made him great before God. Gabriel
appeared to John’s father and said:

    For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled
    with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”    Luke 1:15

In Matthew 11:11, Jesus called him the greatest man ever born of a woman. Then in John 5:35, Jesus said of John:

    He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

It is possible and quite common for people to contend strongly for biblical orthodoxy or even power demonstrations, and
yet have spiritually dull hearts toward Jesus. That is because they don’t practice a lifestyle of fasting. They may go a
lifetime working hard for sound doctrine without cultivating a spirit of tenderness in this way. In Jesus’s day, the very
people who insisted on biblical orthodoxy sought to kill Jesus and John the Baptist. Likewise, many Christians
throughout history have studied the church fathers, memorized the lessons of history, and argued theological points
without having demonstrations of power backed up by radical apostolic lifestyles.

If you want to be great before the Lord and have a heart tenderized toward Him, try fasting. You will understand what
this reward is about.

Fasting illuminates the mind with the spirit of revelation and sharpens our understanding of the

Acts 2:17 mentions a dimension of dreams and visions that I would put into this category too.  Your revelation of the
things of God will increase when you fast.  Since I began fasting, I have had a significant increase of spiritual dreams
about the Word of God, where the Lord is speaking to me about the Word, awakening my heart to specific parts that
relate to my ministry.  I'll tell  you, there is nothing better than when Jesus preaches Jesus.  That's what happened on
the Emmaus road in Luke 24.  Jesus appeared to the disciples and preached who He was and is.  When He left, they
said, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road?"  (verse 32).

Scripture says Jesus opened their understanding, and that is what the Bridegroom fast does.  It opens your
understanding, either through direct study of the Word when you are awake or when the Lord begins to visit you in
dreams and visions.

God opens the realm of secrets to those who draw near to Him.  In John 13:25-26, John laid his head on the Lord's
breast, and the Lord spoke to him about Judas, which was the first secret or scandal to hit the apostolic company.  The
psalmist wrote in the Book of Psalms:

    "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant."   Psalm 25:14

A billion dollars cannot buy you the secrets of God.  You cannot buy or manipulate your way into those regions of God's
heart, but I tell you that prayer and fasting escort us there.  Paul wrote:

    "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of
    God."   I Corinthians 2:10

Jesus said in John 16:15, "All things that the Father has are Mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare
it to you."

I want to peer into those secret things that are found by laying our head upon the breast of Jesus.  There, God will give
us details of how to interpret His End Time activity, how to interpret His plans related to the Bridegroom, what to do with
our time and energy, and how to work with Him in the last days.

Fasting enlarges our emotions, particularly righteousness.

Hebrews 1:8 says:

    "But unto the Son he saith, THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOR EVER AND EVER: A SCEPTRE OF

Jesus loves righteousness and hates iniquity.  He has many emotions, and I want to move beyond the feelings of being
loved and desired and enter into His other feelings of love for righteous and hated of iniquity.  As we fast, our emotional
chemistry changes radically, not just in the realm of feeling His love, though that is the number one point, but also in
having zeal for God's purpose and God's ways.  We discover more of His emotions, which we didn't know He had.

Imagine living a life where your primary energies are gathered together into one intense focus, birthed by the Holy
Spirit.  That's what fasting does.  It centers you on God's emotions.  I am not saying that we get to forget the secondary
issues of life - mowing the lawn, buying groceries, taking the car to be fixed.  But through fasting God grants us divine
perspective on life.  Little things more consistently appear little, and big things more consistently appear big.  Big things
like eternity, the End Time harvest, the great judgments, the shaking of Planet Earth - those are big things.  But they
appear little to most believers.  Little things like daily annoyances, or even big-time betrayals in relationships or money,
look big.  In reality, those things are little.

Fasting tightens up our perspective.  The big picture becomes effortlessly more clear.  We don't get bogged down in the
little picture.  There is a transcending in our understanding.  We do not get lost in the pettiness that comes so naturally
to every one of us.  Fasting doesn't always remove problems; rather, problems come into divine perspective.  We live
more as Holy Spirit honeymooners with Jesus, preoccupied with love more than problems.

That's an exciting way to live.  It's like being involved in the most exciting way to live.  It's like being involved in the most
exciting story plot this side of heaven.  In the realm of God's emotions, that story unfolds day by day, with surprises
always around the corner.  Sadly, most believers are content to live lives of spiritual boredom.  You can be anointed in
ministry and still be absolutely bored out of your mind, not sharing God's strong spectrum of emotions.  I know of
several godly men who have large ministries and miracle power, and they have said to me with their own lips, "I am
spiritually bored."  Most believers are like that, going through the motions.

I don't want to be anything less than gripped by God, and so I live a fasted lifestyle to open the realm of exploration into
the unimaginable complexity and wonder of God's emotions.

Fasting gives you good decision-making power.

When your sense of God's emotions are enhanced, you are not easily swayed to make decisions based on the values
of the world.  You gain the power to refuse ungodly promotion and shrug off demotion.   A profound example is found in
John's Gospel when the people came to make Jesus king by force.  They said, "We will obey You, and the army, the
money, the legislation - everything - will be Yours."  But He said, "No!"

    "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed
    again into a mountain himself alone."  John 6:15

Jesus was unmoved because to Him, the "pay" was the same no matter what He did.  He got satisfaction from His
internal reality with the Father.  Whether He raised the dead or took a nap, His feelings about Himself and about God
didn't change.  That's how we are to be.  Most believers have no power to discern a promotion that is outside of the will
of God.  Promotion blinds them with euphoria, and they respond.  "Wow! Yes, I'll take it!  I mean, let me pray about it."  
Of course they'll say yes in a minute and a half.  They lose ability to see that promotion out of the will of God is actually
a distraction that weakens their hearts with God.

One of the most profound examples of good perspective in decision making was a Catholic monk named Bernard of
Clairvaux, who was born in 1090 and died in 1153.  He is one of my favorite people in church history.  He had just a
small sphere to start with, and then it grew so that the kings of France, Germany, and Italy, three of the most powerful
men on the earth besides the pope, would not act in a significant way without Bernard's blessing.  He would write them a
letter and rebuke them, and other nations.  The four most powerful men in the earth followed his heart, this little Catholic
monk in the valley of Clairvaux in France.  At one point they pressed him to make him pope, and he said, "Why should I
be pope  when I have the nearness of God in my little hut?"  So he refused to be bishop, refused to be pope, and said,
"I will take one of my best guys, whom I have trained for years, and he can be pope in my place."  He picked him, and
the guy became pope.

Bernard has been a source of inspiration for me because, like me, his major life book was the Song of Solomon.  He
taught it for years and was committed to the Bridegroom fast.  He did not use that language, but he taught on the fasted
lifestyle for the sake of knowing the beauty of the Bridegroom God.  And he gained a perspective on promotion.  
Fasting will increase your detachment from irrelevant opinions.  They will seem weak, vain, and temporary.  You will
make better decision, basing them on what's really important.

Fasting strengthens a deep sense of our spiritual identity as sons before a Father and a bride
before the Bridegroom.

Many people flounder for years without a sense of being anchored, without a sense of their bearings in life.  They have
no clue who they really are.  Paradoxically, that produces an excessive preoccupation with self, which is totally natural.  
It is supernatural not to have a preoccupation with self.  Most people are totally obsessed with themselves.  They learn
manners and don't flaunt this obsession all the time, but they still live enslaved to what they look like to other people,
and they get hurt when they are not noticed, even though they are polite and have enough dignity to hide it.  I tell you,
the Bridegroom fast strengthens our identity and weakens the hold of jealousy, envy, and insecurity in our lives.  I know
what it means to strive and manipulate to make a name for myself in ministry.  I have done plenty of that in my day.  Now
I see a clearer way, which John pointed to when he said, "I am a voice; I do not have to be known."  He didn't need
men's opinions because he heard the voice of the Bridegroom.  When you hear His voice, you are happy to be a voice.

    "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him,
    rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled."   John 3:29

John the Baptist had an inward tranquility of joy and gladness unrelated to having honor in the nation.  The consensus
of the nation at the end of his ministry was that he was dangerous and demonized.  

    "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil."   Matt. 11:18

That must have been painful, but John's reality was, "I do not live by their voices; I live by another voice."  When you
hear the voice of a Bridegroom, it changes what you want and what you fear losing.  Your list gets filled with things you
cannot lose, like the anointing of the Spirit on your heart before God.  No man can take that away from you.  Nobody
can imprison you and take your spirit of revelation.  Nobody can cause you not to be great in the sight of the Lord.  You
find a new resolve, a budding fearlessness.  You operate in the power of a romanced heart.

The "Violence" of Fasting

The kingdom suffers violence.  "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent take it by force"  (Matthew 11:12).

Fasting is a form of spiritual intensity, referred to here as "violence."  When you read "suffers" in this verse, think of
"allows" or "permits."  In place of "violence," think of "spiritual intensity."  This is a holy, violent love, not physical
violence.  From the days of the appearing of John the Baptist onward there was a new principle in the kingdom.  Jesus
was saying, "I am announcing something really awesome!  From now on, the kingdom of God permits and rewards
spiritual intensity.  Spiritually intense people can take it by force of their dedication, if they want it."  

John the Baptist was the picture of the ultimate measure of intensity with God.  How does this relate to fasting?  I believe
there is no such thing as spiritual violence without fasting.  Fasting is not just about food but about our motivations and
habits in many areas of our life.  It means paring down everything we do to serve the purpose of our Bridegroom in this
generation.  Fasting is not about moving God to do something.  Rather, we fast because God has already moved our
hearts.  This fasting springs from the opposite motivation most of us are used to.  If we fast to motivate God to pay
attention to us, that is
legalism.  If we fast because He has paid attention to us, that is grace.

When men and women of God enter into spiritual violence, they will be written off as legalistic, disruptive, or morbid;
eventually other believers will call them demonized, just as they labeled Jesus and John the Baptist.  For a season,
people who fast will be considered dangerous and legalistic within the body of Christ.  I  used to get hassled when the
Lord would call me into new dimensions of the fasted lifestyle.  Good, godly people would get uncomfortable about it
until finally I put myself under a two-year gag order.  When the Lord released a significant new measure of fasting in my
life, I did not talk about it for two years; I didn't even talk about it with my pastoral staff.  People would ask about it, and I
would say, "Sorry, I'm not telling you anything."  My friends at home and abroad would get so unnerved and upset and
in a turmoil that I would have to reassure them.  "It's not about you.  I am not judging anybody.  I'm only thinking about
God and my weak little heart growing a little bit."  

When you fast in secret, it creates a whole different dynamic in your emotions because nobody can pat you on the back
for it.  You don't have to sort through divided emotions, and so the benefits are unlocked in your heart far more quickly.  
Jesus did not say to do it in secret just because it is more humble, but because it changes the emotional dynamics in
you.  Your motives become purified.

Anybody can fast.  You can fast with no abilities, no education, no money.  All you do is...nothing.  You dive into the
Word - though it may appear dead to you - add some fasting, and lock yourself into a marathon pace of reading the
Bible and telling God you love Him all day long, and I promise you, in ten years you will be radically different.  You will be
different in only one year, though not instantly.  The system doesn't work so we can go to God's bank casually and say,
"I want the deep things of Your wealth, but I only have a minute."  The Lord looks for hunger over time, for spiritual

In Zechariah 8:19-21, God talked about the Bridegroom fast, saying that your fast will be turned into joyful feasts before
God.  When you fast with God, you are feasting at His table.

    "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh,
    and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the
    truth and peace.  Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the
    inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, "Let us go speedily to pray
    before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also."   Zechariah 8:19-21

The Lord is going to raise up multitudes of people across the earth to live a fasted lifestyle before a Bridegroom God.  
This must happen because, beloved, everything is not all right, and all is not going to be fine if we continue on this path
of insensitivity toward the purposes of God.  Darkness is mounting up across the earth.  This is the hour in which God's
people must be endued with power and illuminating righteousness!  We must roll back the epidemic in the leadership of
the body of Christ.

Many pastors who once held a vision to operate in the power of God have lost their urgency for it.  Once they prayed
for the sick with vibrant faith and expectancy and with prayer and fasting as a regular part of their lifestyle.  Now they
are content to have ministry as usual with no expectation of power.  Their fire for the supernatural dimension of the faith
is all but gone.  Weariness has set in after plowing for all these years in the charismatic dimensions of the church.  They
have stopped pressing in to God's way, and they are selling out to other models of ministry and saying that God's way
won't work.  Yes, they may have a vision for a large church, but not an apostolic New Testament church equipped in
power for the unique challenges of the end of the age.

I cannot tell you the pain I have had over dear friends who were pressing hard with me in revival for years.  Many of
them now won't even allow someone to mention revival or the power of God in their presence because they gave it
three or four or five years and wanted God to fulfill their expectations in their time frame.  It makes them angry and
causes them pain.  They contended for the fullness, but they had an agenda and a condition they placed on God, and
now they have God on probation because He "didn't come through."  I told them even back then, "guys, we're doing this
to the end." They said, "Yes, yes!"  But somewhere in their spirits, they had an escape hatch.

Beloved, we do not want to give ourselves an "out"!  We cannot become spiritually domesticated, seduced, and lulled to
sleep by man-pleasing Western church culture.  Spiritual darkness is growing at a fast pace across the earth.  This is a
crucial time in history.  We must cry, "No! It is not OK for the church to continue in business as usual without apostolic
power!"  The Lord wants us to rise from our apathy and get a fresh vision for His fullness.  He wants us to be like David,
Peter, Paul - committed to genuine apostolic faith.  We don't just want a little bit here and there.  I'm talking about a day
when we cast demons out of insane kids, heal paralytics by one word, empty out insane asylums - that's what I mean by
deliverance.  Stadiums filled, apostolic teams of young and old alike sent out to the nations of the world.  Tens of
thousands of churches planted, miracles beyond measure breaking forth.

I want to challenge you to dare to believe all the way, with no way out.  Let's go for broke.  Let's go for the whole thing.  
Cut the excess out of your life.  Get focused.  Get ordered.  Measure your life by hours, not months.  Fill your spirit with
revelation.  Get trained.  Get equipped.  Get in the middle of what God is doing.  Get your hands out of your pockets.  
Lay them on the sick, even when you feel nothing.  Go for it!

The Breaker Anointing

We need men and women who have a "breaker anointing."  Micah prophesied about a future day when the Messiah
would lead Israel with such an anointing.  In other words, He would help Israel break out of the old way and break open
new dimensions of the purpose of God.

    "I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as
    the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude
    of men."   Micah 2:12

Jesus is the ultimate expression of the breaker anointing, one who breaks open new dimensions of the Spirit for others
to enter into.  Today the multitudes will only enter into the fullness of God's purpose when forerunners rise up with a
breaker anointing and break us out of status quo Christianity.  Forerunners break
out in order to break open.  They first
break out of unbiblical paradigms of ministry and church life.  There are many paradigms in the church today that are
ungodly and not energized by the Holy Spirit.  It's not easy to break out of them.  Why?  Because the majority of leaders
and believers are bound by what those around them think.  It takes a lot of emotional energy to manage all the fear,
questioning, and manipulation that come when you want to please everyone.  Few want to bother with breaking into new
areas because they are just learning to manage the old ones.

It's high time to break free from the fear of being considered too fanatical.  Beloved, we are so easily enslaved by the
opinions of people.  We shouldn't feel the need to apologize for our lifestyle in God.  We don't have to look respectable
to other Christians.  Many religious paradigms we hold dear today will be shattered by the Lord Himself.  We should
follow Him and embrace the breaker anointing He is giving to many of us.  As we break out, God will use us to break
open new dimensions in the Holy Spirit to the spiritually stagnant Western church.  He will make the End Time church a
dwelling place of God's power.  He will release a corporate anointing where cancer, AIDS, disease, demons of
pornography, drugs, and alcohol cannot survive.  The Holy Spirit is raising up forerunners today who will break out and
break through because they are people of one thing, contending for the power of God and the fullness of the apostolic

It is not a matter of praying harder to convince God to release His power.  Revival doesn't come because of more prayer
meetings, more extended worship services, better music, more fasting, harder preaching, and a whole host of efforts we
undertake to persuade Him to come close.  As we will see in the next chapter, the opposite is true.  God is not waiting to
be convinced to release His power - He is waiting to convince us.  He wants to give us the fullness of power for our
generation, but only after He has established an intimacy with us so that we are able to handle it.


AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART, by Mike Bickle, Copyright 2009, Charisma House.